Culture, an engine of economic growth and development

prosperity_320x200What is the value of culture in our society? “A retreat in the opposite fate”, as Aristotle claimed, or an uncertain challenge? Investing in culture means improving civil cohesion, with courage and foresight. A necessary response in front of the political disintegration and economic uncertainty. A key direction already indicated in the UN Convention on the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The document follows the principles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the United Nations, promoting cooperation among nations through the sharing of knowledge, progress in sciences, the preservation of the artistic heritage, the protection of the landscape and the local cultures. The Convention, adopted in Paris on 16 November 1972, emphasizes the strengthening of cultural resources as an engine for social and economic development for the society. The cultural market and the creative industry have created wealth and many jobs in the Old Continent: according to an analysis by TERA Consultants (2014), the cultural industry, between 2008 and 2014, generated an impact on the European GDP, estimated at around 4.4%, while employment in the sector is around 3.8%. The European countries that have invested the most in the cultural sectors are the UK, Germany and France. Important signals also come from Northern Europe, where schools and educational institutions contribute to promote culture in all its forms, from architecture to music. downloadThe task of considering culture as a powerful tool for democracy to promote social integration has emerged significantly in the G7 of culture, held last week in Florence. Among the objectives, the commitment to oppose any ideological extremism, both political and religious, and to regain a civic sense of culture in all its artistic expressions. “Culture as dialogue”, the slogan chosen for this meeting, shows a desire shared by all the countries that participated. <<The first G7 of culture is important in itself because it allowed countries to place culture on the agenda, because the leadership cannot rely on economic strength only, but also on shared values>>, says Dario Franceschini, the Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage. Interesting in this regard the proposal made by France and Italy to create an Erasmus program to promote cultural exchanges, combining the European Union and Unesco expertises. Create a network of contacts, bringing young people and scholars, different cultures and traditions from all over the continent, it can improve not only human relations but strengthen cooperation between the EU states, also at an economic level. Culture can revive the project of “civil economy” by investing in human capital through the involvement of the most marginalized groups of the population (regarding access to economic resources, level of education and political participation). A greater and better access to knowledge allows to raise awareness of diversity, promoting social integration. The goal shared by public and private institutions is related to the value of culture as a variable of economic development of a region, a process that involves first of all individuals in their capacity as citizens, consumers and producers of knowledge. what-is-culture1The Declaration of Florence – the document signed at the conclusion of the meeting -, aims at encouraging investments that give centrality to development projects and land conservation. Space at the same time real and virtual, material and immaterial, the cultural habitat consists in the synergy between citizens and the environment. Culture must go beyond the traditional circuits, such as museums, theaters and archaeological sites, taking advantage of the opportunities generated by new areas of daily life. Digital technology is changing the creation and distribution of cultural products: several studies point out that the future of culture depends on users’ interactivity, through streaming contents and the Internet of Things (IoT). Innovations must break down every obstacle and facilitate the economic and social exchange. An inclusive idea of culture, beyond the walls and indifference, can be the only engine of change.





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